Don Schlitz Calls Writing ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’ ‘a Great Honor’
Don Schlitz has written some of the biggest songs in country music, including Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," Randy Travis' "Forever and Ever, Amen," "Strong Enough to Bend" by Tanya Tucker and Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All," among others. But perhaps no song is as meaningful to the writer as Rogers and Dolly Parton's recent duet, "You Can't Make Old Friends."
The title track of Rogers' 2013 studio album, "You Can't Make Old Friends" was co-written by Schlitz, Ryan Hanna King and Caitlyn Smith. Part of the reason that it is so special is because Rogers personally asked him to pen the tune.
"He said, ‘I want you to write a song called "You Can’t Make Old Friends,"'" Schlitz recalls to The Boot. "And when Kenny Rogers says, ‘Write a song with this title,’ that’s what you’re supposed to do.
"If you told me at one time I’d have a song recorded by Kenny and Dolly, I’d say, ‘That’s long enough. We’ll stop it there,’" the tunesmith adds. "It’s a great video, and obviously very meaningful for the two of them. It’s a great honor to be a part of that."
Schlitz, who has written both by himself and with other writers, says that after almost 40 years of penning songs, he still doesn't have one tried-and-true writing process that works.
"I like to, if I’m writing with someone, or in the days when I did that, it would be an appointment situation, usually with a friend," he explains. "It would be not to start with a hook line, to start with an idea, and actually have something thoughtful and catchy, pithy, short and to the point. Not try to do too much.
"I wrote one song that had 48 lines in it, and that’s how I got in the music business, and then after that, I really liked those 12-line songs," he adds with a laugh. "That’s a good day, when you get a song in 12 lines, and you get to write it, and hopefully someone who’s a really great singer sings it, then I’ll call that my process, however it happens. It happens every which way."
Schlitz is a regular performer at Nashville's renowned Bluebird Cafe. A list of all of his upcoming shows is available on his website.
"You Can't Make Old Friends" is available for download on iTunes.
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